Monday, August 31, 2009

How to ensure the RIGHT fit for your child's shoes

- and why it's so important to their health

recent study presented at the 2009 annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons showed that 52.8 percent of outdoor shoes and 61.6 percent of indoor shoes were too small for the child wearing them. With Back to School season approaching, and children everywhere in need of new shoes, Rack Room Shoes is releasing its essential list of ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ to help parents find the proper fitting shoe and save their children a lifetime of footwear-related spine, back and foot problems.

Often parents don’t take the time to have their children’s foot properly measured,” says Cris Bremner, Marketing Manager for Rack Room Shoes, a Charlotte, NC-based retailer who operates 378 stores across the country. “Parents need to check not only the length, but width and depth as well. Just because the shoe physically fits onto the foot, doesn’t mean that it’s the right fit.”

Dr. Russell G. Volpe, a Professor at the Department of Pediatrics and Orthopedics, New York College of Podiatric Medicine/Foot Clinics of NY, who also has a private Podopediatric practice in New York, says a bad fit will negate all benefits of a good shoe. He stresses that “finding the right fit is essential.” In addition to spine or back problems, poorly fitting shoes can cause hammer toes, ingrown toenails, calluses, bunions, abnormal gait or misalign growing bones. “Luckily,” Dr. Volpe adds, “these problems are easily preventable.”

Other Do’s and Don’ts from Rack Room Shoes and Dr. Volpe:

DO check for proper length, width, depth. Check the fit of the shoe with the child standing. Make sure there is approximately a thumb’s width distance between the end of the longest toe and the toe box, and room the size of a pencil between the top of the heel of the shoe and the foot.

DO make sure there is minimal up and down slippage on the heel area.

DO find shoes with flexible soles, not rigid ones.

DO ensure that the shoe can “breathe.” Recommended shoe materials include leather, canvas or newer mesh materials while synthetics such as plastic for the upper are not.

DO try to understand what kind of foot your child has. Take a look at their old shoes – do you notice that certain areas are more worn out then others? Wear on the medial (or outside) side of the heels suggests "rolling in of the ankles" and a consultation with a foot specialist for possible shoe inserts or orthotic is recommended. Children with signs of medial wear or wearing of the upper part of the shoe inward slightly off the sole area should be in shoes with stiffer back and sides. High-tops may help as well.

DON’T hand down shoes from one child to another. Each child creates individualized wear patterns in a shoe and inappropriate use of another child’s shoe can place undue stress on a child’s feet.

DON’T forget to measure your child’s feet often. Children’s feet grow in spurts and they will require a size change in their footwear every three to four months.

DON’T use flip-flops, CROCS or sandals for sports use or heavy play activities. These shoes are fine for a day at the beach of a visit to the pool but they are not adequate or protective enough for even moderate physical activity.

While price is an important consideration, don’t make it the deciding factor when purchasing a shoe. “Try to find the best quality shoes possible as they offer better cushioning, support and protection, which are essential,” says Dr. Volpe. “Cheap, poorly made shoes are often lacking the proper support and flexibility necessary to sustain the extreme activity of an active child.” Bremner adds, “Parents often think that good shoes aren’t worth spending money on because children’s feet grow so quickly. Rack Room Shoes strives to offer parents quality, brand name shoes at affordable prices. We don’t want them to have to sacrifice quality because of the price.”

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